Working from home puts your “mind over matter” skills to the test. It’s much harder to feel motivated about work when you have a comfy bed waiting for you in the other room. You have to hold yourself accountable every workday, and that’s a tough balance to master. These tips will help you boost productivity when you’re working from home.
Schedule Hard Tasks at the Beginning or Middle of the Day
Most workers have a combination of hard and easy tasks to complete throughout the day. Your motivation to complete the hard tasks will likely decline as the day progresses. Rather than pushing those tasks to the end of the day, try scheduling them at the beginning or middle of the day.
You may benefit from getting the hard tasks over with as soon as you start working. That provides a foundation of accomplishment that will fuel you through the rest of the day’s work. However, some people need a little time in the morning to ramp up to the difficult tasks. If that’s the case, set up your workload like a hill each day – easy, incline to difficult, decline to easy again.
Research shows that workers are more productive Monday through Thursday than they are on Friday. If this is the case for you, try planning your hardest tasks early on in the week. Leave the last day of the work week for tying loose ends before your days off.
Create a Designated Space for Work
Working from home can blur the lines between your work and personal life. It’s easy to get distracted or feel unmotivated when you’re at home.
Set up a designated area for work with minimal distractions. This could be a dedicated home office, a desk in your bedroom, or even a closet converted into an office. Ideally, choose an area that you can close off or cover when you’re finished with work for the day.
Set Realistic Daily Goals
Unrealistic goals kill productivity levels. They don’t motivate you to do more; they just make you feel overwhelmed. What do I do first? How can I possibly complete all of that in the time I have?
Refocus your work goals to be aspiring yet achievable. Break those goals into measurable tasks that you can track throughout the week. As you complete each task, you’ll feel more motivated to reach the end.
Put Your Phone Away While You Work
Cell phones are incredibly distracting. If you need to disassociate from work for a moment, you may be tempted to scroll on social media or send a message on your phone. Try to put your phone away if at all possible to focus on the task at hand.
If you cannot put your phone away completely, set it on your desk screen side down. Mute or turn off unimportant notifications that may take your mind away from work. You can check those during your breaks or after your workday is over.
Schedule Meal Breaks and Brain Breaks for Yourself
You don’t have to work straight through the day to be productive. Giving your mind and body short breaks throughout the day will give you the energy to keep pushing through.
Use the 20-20-20 rule if your work requires excessive screen time. For every 20 minutes that you look at the screen, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Alternatively, you could set up a “brain break” every hour where you go into a dark part of your house for a few minutes. Shut your eyes and avoid any electronic light. This gives your eyes a chance to regroup, and it may prevent screen-related headaches.
Don’t do work tasks during your breaks! Take a lunch break in another room, and don’t worry about what’s waiting for you at your desk. Treating yourself to small spurts of personal time will make you more motivated at work.
Maintain a Cutoff Time for Your Workdays
Many home-based workers struggle with boundaries. If you don’t have to clock in and clock out for work, your workday may bleed into your evenings. Establish a defined cutoff point for your workday, and ignore work until the following morning. Do not answer emails or respond to phone calls past a certain point unless you’re in an industry that requires you to remain on call.
If you’re always working, you’re never motivated. It’s that simple. You need to feel fulfilled in all aspects of your life, both personally and professionally. Maintaining healthy boundaries between your work life and personal life will help you feel more productive in both areas.
Check out Work/Life Balance Tips for Workaholics for more tips on how to boost productivity and reduce stress in your life.